Worst refugee crisis since WWII: United Nations
Eleven million people were uprooted by violence last year, most propelled by conflict in Syria, Iraq, Ukraine and Afghanistan. Conflict and poverty have also pushed thousands out of parts of sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia. A look at the response to what has become the worst migration crisis since World War II, according to the United Nations.
Syria & Iraq
Syria’s neighbours have been making it harder for migrants to cross into their territories.
Taxing the neighbours
Years of violence in Iraq and Syria have stretched the capacities of neighbouring countries to accommodate the displaced. In Jordan, unemployment has almost doubled since 2011 in areas with high concentrations of refugees, according to a recent International Labour Organisation study.
Lebanon began to require visas from Syrians in January. Refugees now make up about 20 per cent of Lebanon’s population. In March, Turkey announced it would close the two remaining border gates with Syria.
The European Union wants to stop smugglers near the African coast. European governments are divided over the fates of those who reach shore.
How to respond
In May, European leaders said they would form a naval force based in Italy to combat people-smuggling. Last week, the European Commission appealed to the bloc’s member states to accept quotas of migrants to relieve the burden on states like Italy and Greece, which are the main landing points for them. Poverty and war in places like Libya, South Sudan and Nigeria are driving migrants to make the journey across the Mediterranean Sea.
Southeast AsiaAfter spending days at sea, migrants gather at the Mee Tike camp near the Bangladesh border with Myanmar. (source: Reuters)
Thousands of Bangladeshis and Rohingya have fled from poverty and persecution.
Fleeing by sea
Indonesia and Malaysia, countries that in the past have quietly taken in many refugees from Bangladesh and Myanmar, first reacted to the new rise in migrants by vowing to send back smugglers’ boats. Facing public pressure, they reversed their stance in mid-May, saying they would provide shelter to migrants still at sea. An absence of landings and a paucity of sightings suggest that the inflow has subsided.
UkraineA boy plays at a temporary camp set up for Ukrainian refugees in Novoshakhtinsk near the Russian border. (Source; Reuters)
Fighting between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian separatists has severely damaged Ukraine’s industrial belt.
Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have fled to Russia. But European Union countries, like Poland, Germany and Italy, which are among the top destinations for asylum seekers, have rejected most applications from Ukrainians. Less than a third of the $316 million needed in 2015 for the United Nations’ humanitarian response has been raised so far. The conflict was particularly damaging to Ukraine’s economy, which is expected to shrink 9 percent by the end of the year.
First Published on: June 15, 2015 2:18 am